Drug dealer avoids jail

A COTMANHAY man, caught before getting the chance to make £20,000 from drug deals, has been given a chance to prove he has turned over a new leaf.

Derby Crown Court heard Mark Harris got his first job at the age of 37 after gaining qualifications in prison.

Two years later he is still in work and has now been promoted to supervisor.

Catherine Chasemore, prosecuting, said police found amphetamine when they raided a house, to which Harris had access, on Cotmanhay Road on December 23.

Experts identified amphetamine mixed with glucose on the premises. Out of 1,345 grammes in total, six per cent was of the illegal drug.

On its own, it was worth between £2,400 and £3,000 but if sold on the streets in £10 deals, it would have made £20,000, she told the court.

An eight-month prison sentence, suspended for two years, was imposed on Harris, now 39, of Norman Street, after he admitted having amphetamine, a Class B drug, with intent to supply.

Recorder Chris Nicholls was handed a reference from Harris’s employer and said: “She speaks very highly of you.

“I am urged to say there is a very strong possibility you are someone who has put his past behind him and someone, given the chance, would prove you could stay out of trouble.”

But he said it had been “a pretty close run thing” when considering whether to jail him again.

The recorder warned: ”In the vernacular, you won’t half be for the high jump if you fall down on this one.”

Harris was put on probation for 18 months and must carry out 200 hours unpaid work. He admitted having amphetamine, a Class B drug, with intent to supply.

Miss Chasemore, said Harris told police he had a drug debt and this was the only reason he got involved.

“He said he had already given £1,000 and denied that he was still using drugs himself.”

She said Harris had a conviction for having amphetamine with intent to supply in September 2000.

He was jailed for ten months at the time.

In March 2008, he was in court again for the same offence and was sent to prison for 26 weeks.

Miss Chasemore said he also had convictions for violence and added: “This is his third offence of possession with intent to supply amphetamine.”

Barry White, mitigating, said Harris had been clearing the drug debt at £200 weekly.

He told the recorder: “He is in a job, a stable relationship, address and is debt-free.

“This is the start, quite clearly, of a change in his life.

“This is his first job and got it at the age of 37, thankful for the course he took while in prison.

“This man wants one more chance to show he has changed his life now that debt has gone.”